This vaccination campaign under the theme “Spread Love. Get the Shot.” is the second promotion designed by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) to assist in tackling vaccine hesitancy in the Caribbean. These communication materials including videos, social media cards and public service announcements were developed to address some of the gaps in knowledge and concerns about the COVID-19 vaccines. Link to the first campaign.
What is herd immunity?
Why should healthy young people get the COVID-19 vaccine?
COVID-19 vaccines and variants
Underlying conditions and COVID-19
COVID-19 vaccines and pregnancy
Khaleel Kothdiwala from Barbados is an 18-year-old University of West Indies (UWI), Cave Hill Law student. In these video clips he responds to the questions:
I am young and healthy; I exercise, eat properly and take vitamins - I do not need to be vaccinated.
Young people do contract COVID-19 and manifest symptoms of the disease. Young people are now even more susceptible to contracting COVID-19 and experiencing disease, including severe illness, hospitalisation and death because of the dangerous Delta Variant of Concern. The Delta Variant works in a way that it can crash the immune systems of young, healthy persons, attacking vital organs like the heart, kidneys, lungs, brain and vascular system.
Many young people contract COVID-19 without experiencing any symptoms, but they can still spread the virus to others who can develop serious diseases and complications. This is especially so with the elderly and those with underlying conditions.
All young people eligible to take the COVID-19 vaccine should do so to protect themselves and others.
I am a young woman interested in having children. I have heard that the COVID-19 vaccine makes you infertile and unable to bear children and that it is also dangerous to pregnant women?
There is no evidence that the COVID-19 vaccines interact with a woman’s reproductive organs or with an egg that has been released in a way that will make a woman unable to bear a child or carry one to full term. However, there is evidence that pregnancy makes a woman more vulnerable to disease and complications of COVID-19.
Pregnant women who get COVID-19 are at higher risk for preterm and stillbirths. They are also at higher risks for developing pneumonia, hypertension and maternal death due to complications.
Pregnant women are encouraged to get vaccinated, in consultation with their medical provider.
There is no evidence that men who take the COVID 19 vaccine will become infertile. Several studies have taken place that compared men's sperm counts before and after taking the vaccine and no significant change has been seen.
There is no scientific evidence linking erectile dysfunction with taking the COVID-19 vaccine
However, erectile dysfunction has been seen in men who have contracted COVID-19. Taking the vaccine is recommended to prevent this and many other negative effects of COVID-19 infection.
This myth has been countered by leaders of most denominations who assure their members that the vaccine is critical in preventing serious illness and death from COVID 19 and necessary for achieving herd immunity which will enable countries to return to a state of normalcy.
No - the vaccines do not contain any live or active form of the SARS-COV-2 virus which causes COVID-19. Any side effects that you may experience after taking the vaccine are common and occur with most vaccines. Side effects are generally mild and not a sign that the vaccine has given you COVID-19.
I am afraid to take the COVID-19 vaccine as it may cause changes in my menstrual cycle, including heavier periods, and unexpected vaginal bleeding.
Changes in menstrual periods have been detected in a small number of persons after taking the vaccine. These effects are short term, lasting no more than one or two cycles. Studies are ongoing as to why these changes might happen.
Allergic reactions to the COVID 19 vaccines are rare but could happen if someone is allergic to any of the ingredients in the vaccine. Allergic reactions can range from mild to severe and can include the following symptoms:
Hives, itching, swelling of the mouth, lips, tongue or throat, shortness of breath, wheezing or chest tightness, changes in blood pressure or loss of consciousness.
Individuals are monitored on-site for any reaction after receiving the vaccine to ensure quick treatment.
Individuals with known allergic reactions should seek medical advice before taking the vaccine.
I am very fearful of needles and injections. I would like to get the vaccine but am riddled with fear and anxiety. How can I be helped?
Fear of needles is known as trypanophobia. Needle concern can range from mild to severe to the extent that persons refuse to take injections that may be vital in treating various conditions including critical ones. Here are some ways of dealing with that fear:
You don’t know how COVID-19 will impact you. Not getting the vaccine puts you at an increased risk of getting seriously ill. The vaccine can help protect you and your loved ones.
I have the right to choose whether or not I get vaccinated. My nation’s constitution guarantees this. Why are you trying to push this on me?
When a country is undergoing a public health crisis that potentially impacts every citizen, individuals should consider ‘the collective good’. ‘The collective good’ refers to each of us doing our part in preventing the spread of COVID-19 to others. In doing so, we ease the impact on our healthcare systems that could become overwhelmed and enable countries to recover their economies, so that we can get back to normal sooner. Vaccination has been proven to be the most effective means of arresting the spread of infectious diseases including smallpox, chicken pox, measles, polio, whooping cough, to name a few.